Best Religiously Affiliated Hidden Gem Colleges | 2023 Rankings

Hidden Gems Religiously Affiliated Colleges Badge.The United States is a melting pot of different cultures and religions, and for many, religion is an important part of their life. Hundreds of universities and colleges across the United States were founded with religious affiliation, and many have held onto those roots. They have the ethics and belief system of their religion built into available programs, student organizations, and daily life. They combine those religious roots with a top-notch education.

There are many amazing religiously affiliated colleges, both big and small. But, to qualify as a College Raptor Hidden Gem, a school must meet the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • OR less than 40th percentile of applications received by all schools in that state
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled

See the best religiously affiliated Hidden Gems colleges here!

Best Religiously Affiliated Hidden Gem Colleges

Hillsdale’s motto is “Virtus Tentamine Gaudet” or “Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.” The school has a 97% first year retention rate and a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. All students who attend are required to take courses on the “Great Books,” the United States Constitution, and Science courses. 78% of students will graduate within 6 years.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Religious Affiliation Undenominational
Student Enrollment 1,543
Grove City College is an undemoninational college located in Grave City, PA. The school has a high acceptance rate of 77.6% and they receive around 1,600 applications annually. Over half the students that attend are from Pennsylvania, and another majority come from surrounding states. With an 87% first year retention rate, 80% of students will graduate in 4 years.
Location Grove City, PA
Religious Affiliation Undenominational
Student Enrollment 2,277
Centre College’s motto is “Doctrina Lux Mentis,” or “Learning is the Light of the Mind.” The college accepts over 72% of applicants and 82% will graduate within 4 years. The highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, so you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus. Centre College does not charge an application fee for any students interested in attending.
Location Danville, KY
Religious Affiliation Presbyterian Church (USA)
Student Enrollment 1,333
Wheaton College was founded by evangelical abolitionists in 1860 and would become a stop on the Underground Railroad. Business is by far the most popular major at the school. Athletic teams are known as The Thunder. They wear blue and orange and compete in the NCAA Division III in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Location Wheaton, IL
Religious Affiliation Undenominational
Student Enrollment 2,908
Muhlenberg College is a midsize private, liberal arts college about an hour and half north of Philidelphia. Over 70% of students who attend this Lutheran college come from three states - Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. 77% of students will graduate in four years.
Location Allentown, PA
Religious Affiliation American Evangelical Lutheran Church
Student Enrollment 2,067
More commonly known as Sewanee, The University of the South sits on 13,000 acres. These grounds are more commonly known as “The Domain” or “The Mountain.” They accept 56% of applications and have a 10:1 student to faculty ratio. Sewanee is actually owned by over 25 southern dioceses and is home to several chapels.
Location Sewanee, TN
Religious Affiliation Protestant Episcopal
Student Enrollment 1,800
Yeshiva University is a research university in Manhattan that has four schools that make up the undergraduate program: Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, Katz School of Science and Health, and Syms School of Business. Campuses, buildings, and facilities can also be found in other NYC boroughs and in Israel. The university’s motto is “תורה ומדע“ which is Hebrew for “Torah and secular knowledge.”
Location New York City, NY
Religious Affiliation Jewish
Student Enrollment 5,524
Student athletes at Hope College are known as the Flying Dutchman. The school’s logo also features an anchor, a nod to the famous ship, a Bible verse, the school’s motto (Spera in Deo, or Hope in God in Latin) and the campus’s location by Lake Michigan. The college has shared its campus with the Western Theological Seminary since 1884.
Location Holland, MI
Religious Affiliation Reformed Church in America
Student Enrollment 3,061
Founded in 1854, Wofford College is one of the few southeastern schools that was founded prior to the American Civil War that still exists today. The school has a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an impressive 89% freshman retention rate. Wofford’s motto is Intaminatis fulget honoribus, which means “Untarnished, She Shines with Honor” in Latin.
Location Spartanburg, SC
Religious Affiliation United Methodist
Student Enrollment 1,764
Saint Anselm College is the third oldest Catholic college in New England, having been founded in 1889. The school has been the site of presidential policy speeches from John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon as well as several national presidential debates. 100% of students receive institutional aid from the school ($26,816 on average).
Location Manchester, NH
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 2,019
Samford University accepts about 84% of students. Many will go on to major in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Registered Nursing, and Journalism. Originally known as Howard College, it was founded in 1841, but was converted to a military hospital during the Civil War. The Beeson Divinity School on campus offers Master’s degrees in Divinity, Theological Studies, and more.
Location Birmingham, AL
Religious Affiliation American Baptist
Student Enrollment 5,729
Founded in 1937, Westmont College’s motto is Christus Primatum Tenens, which is Latin for “Christ Holding Preeminence.” The school was initially a Bible Missionary Institute but would become Westmont College only 3 years later. 99% of those attending the college receive institutional grant aid (about $30,000 on average per student).
Location Santa Barbara, CA
Religious Affiliation Non-Denominational
Student Enrollment 1,226
Although they offer 75 majors, popular areas of study at Gustavus Adolphus College include Psychology, Biology, and Business/Commerce. The school does not charge students for applications and 98% of those attending receive institutional grant aid. Christ Chapel sits in the center of the campus, holds an organ, and can sit 1,500 attendees.
Location Saint Peter, MN
Religious Affiliation American Evangelical Lutheran Church
Student Enrollment 2,230
Nestled between Lake Sagatagan and Stump Lake, Saint John’s University was founded in 1857 by Benedictine monks from Germany. It is a men’s school, and the brother college of St. Benedict - an all-women’s school. Their partnership began in 1955 and the two joined in 1961. Over 90% of faculty possess a doctorate or terminal degree.
Location Collegeville, MN
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 1,668
John Carroll University has 70 programs available to undergraduates, with Finance, Marketing, and Biology being popular choices. The school was founded in 1886 and first known as St. Ignatius College, an all men’s school. In 1923, it was renamed to John Carroll University in honor of the first US Catholic Church archbishop. The school became coeducational in 1968.
Location University Heights, OH
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 3,278
It may not surprise you that Transylvania University’s school color is crimson or that its mascot is a bat. Additionally, Halloween is a big deal at this school ending in a tradition called Pumpkinmania. This liberal arts college has a Latin motto, “In Lumine Illo Tradimus Lumen” which means “In That Light, We Pass on the Light.”
Location Lexington, KY
Religious Affiliation Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Student Enrollment 963
Messiah University has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 86% first year retention rate today. Originally the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training House in 1909, the school would become a college in 1951 and a university in 2020. Students have to sign a Community Covenant if they decide to attend the school.
Location Mechanicsburg, PA
Religious Affiliation Interdenominational
Student Enrollment 3,370
Saint Michael’s College has over 30 majors available to students, the most popular of which is Business Administration and Management. The college accepts over 87% of applicants; anyone who decides to attend will receive institutional aid. St. Mikes is also home to a number of organizations and programs including volunteer first responders, Campus Ministry, and others.
Location Colchester, VT
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 1,724
Calvin University was founded in 1876 but known as Calvin College for most of its existence. It only became a university in 2019. The chapel on campus holds daily services and the spire is higher than all of the school’s academic buildings. The college has a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 87% first year retention rate.
Location Grand Rapids, MI
Religious Affiliation Christian Reformed Church
Student Enrollment 3,307
Saint Mary’s College of California’s motto is Signum Fidei, which is Latin for “The Sign of Faith.” The chapel holds Mass twice on Sundays and every day Monday through Friday. Students can be any religion, but an introductory course of the Bible is required. The school also has a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, an 81% first year retention rate, and 70.1% acceptance rate.
Location Moraga, CA
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 3,439
Allegheny College was founded in 1815 making it one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. 100% of students who attend receive financial aid in the way of grants from the school. Although Allegheny College does have religious affiliation (since 1833), students are not required to attend any classes regarding religion.
Location Meadville, PA
Religious Affiliation United Methodist
Student Enrollment 1,667
Partnered with Saint John’s University for men, the College of Saint Benedict is exclusively for women. The college got its start in 1913 with only six students after being founded by the Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Today, resources are shared between the two campuses, a partnership that began in 1955.
Location Saint Joseph, MN
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 1,668
All students who attend Saint Norbert College receive grant aid from the school – about $23,600 on average per student. With the Latin motto of Docere Verbo et Exemplo, or “To Teach by word and example,” the school encourages students to become more involved in their community, take part in community service, and join student-run organizations on campus.
Location De Pere, WI
Religious Affiliation Roman Catholic
Student Enrollment 1,939
Taylor University offers over 50 different undergraduate programs, some of the most popular being Elementary Education and Teaching, Exercise Physiology, and Biology and Biological Sciences. The school is named after Bishop William Taylor, and, having been founded in 1846, is one of the oldest evangelical Christian universities in the United States.
Location Upland, IN
Religious Affiliation Interdenominational
Student Enrollment 2,110
All students attending Milligan University receive financial assistance to help them afford tuition. On campus, the university has a 9 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, an 82% first year retention rate, and an acceptance rate of over 99%. The university has roots in the Restoration Movement and, with a campus ministry program and culture of service, remains close to those roots.
Location Milligan, TN
Religious Affiliation Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
Student Enrollment 1,338


Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

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